Sam WHITBY #236

Letters to the Editor

from Sam WHITBY in CMO #236

@. . . .   I have already seen and enjoyed the report on the meeting of the CMO observers. It seems to have been a great success, and I am sure that it was enjoyed by everyone. The photos of the participants were a nice added touch.
  On the first of October we had our long anticipated reunion of my mother's side of the family, named Cumbia. After a delicious lunch there was an informal family meeting, during which I gave a little talk on my research into the family tree. I printed fifty copies of fifteen page history of the family and gave them to the interested parties. Most of the people who attended seemed to be very interested in the family tree.
  As I mentioned before, the earliest family member that I located was born in about 1730. The day after the reunion, another family researcher found a connection to a family that goes back as far as 1585 in Europe. That family, once it made it to North America, had numerous inter- marriages with Cherokee Indians, so it is perhaps the source of our rumored Indian ancestors.
  A couple of days ago, somebody claiming to represent Indians vandalized a statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond. I had nothing to do with that particular crime, being too busy with trying to preserve history rather than trying to distort it.
  You have perhaps read about the severe drought in the American state of Texas. In Virginia summer is usually a rather dry time, and, unless it is watered, the grass in yards usually becomes dry and gray by the middle of July. This year, to the contrary, the grass has remained green throughout the summer, in spite of the relative lack of hurricanes late in the season. The stream that dried up a couple of years ago, killing many fish, has remained deep all year. The work of beavers helped maintain the depth of the water. Another small stream, which has dried up early in the year every year in which I observed it, still has running water. Tyler and I were surprised to find crayfish and salamanders in this latter stream, where I had never seen water life before.
  I enjoyed seeing Mars glide by Regulus in the morning sky. My plan is to begin to observe seriously when the planet's angular diameter is about six seconds of arc.
  Our family is well. This morning David was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society, which recognizes academic excellence, and Uta and I glady attended the ceremony. Not a tall man myself, I was surprised to realize that David was the tallest person among the scholars who were being honored.
  You have perhaps wondered, so I will admit believing that George W. Bush will be a great president.
(11 Oct 2000 email)

@. . . .   Most readers of the CMO will probably not be interested, but I am forwarding the message below because it gives a site at which you can glance at some photos taken at the Cumbia reunion. Photo number 9 shows my mother with one of her great-grandchildren. Number 12 shows, left to right, cousins Dean, Allen, Marcus, Connie, Sam, and Douglas. Numbers 34 and 35 show Sam, Uta, David, and Tyler. The other photos show various family members and/or decorations.

(11Oct 2000 email)

@. . . .   The tall young man with me in photos 34 and 35 is David, who is over six feet tall now, and the other people are Uta and Tyler. In one of the other photos I am depicted giving my little talk on the family tree. Moments after the photo was taken, Tyler walked into the room and up to the front of the group with me. He stood there for a moment or two, unaware that he was interrupting or that he was being watched with amusement. Suddenly he realized what was happening, and he ran back to his mother. It is too bad that nobody captured Tyler's actions on film.

  You probably noticed that we held the reunion in the local church. The building itself is new, but it is in the same spot as the church I attended as a child, where I slammed my thumb in the car door while watching the aurora. The church is near where the great-grandparents lived, a fairly central and convenient location for people to get together. Anyway, that was our thinking when we decided upon that location.
  On October 12, I set up my telescope outside the hospital for the staff who were leaving after the evening shift. (I have worked a few more evenings there recently.) Many people had asked me to do that, and finally I found the opportunity. Yesterday people were still speaking of their amazement at the beauty of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn, and asking me to please bring the scope back for another viewing session.
  We had a light frost on October 10, the first of the season and rather early at that. The leaves are beginning to change, and a few have even fallen off the trees. Earlier today we drove to Charlottesville, where the season is farther advanced, and we enjoyed a visit to a mountainside apple orchard.
  I had thought that I might visit the astronomy library at the University, but we were warned that activities scheduled on campus for today (nothing subversive, just football and what they call parents' day) would make it hard to get onto and off of the campus. Having been caught in football traffic before and not wanting to go through that again, I postponed the library visit.
  Now it is time to join Uta and David as they watch The Iron Chef.

(13 Oct 2000 email)

Samuel WHITBY ( VA, USA ) :